Vegetation communities of western substeppe ilmens of the Volga delta
Golub, V. B.; Tchorbadze, N. B.
A region adjacent to the west of the Volga river delta is known as "western substeppe ilmens" (WSI). Ilmens are elongated water bodies appearing during the spring floods and stretching from east to west. The Volga waters used to reach dozens of kilometres deep into the Precaspian desert, but due to various natural and human-induced impacts, many of them have become isolated from the Volga fresh waters which resulted in their drying-up and salinization. The vegetation cover of the western substeppe ilmens is characterized by a great diversity which can be attributed to extreme variations in moisture content and soil salinization levels. Thus, the moisture gradient ranges from aquatic to desert-like habitats, and the salinization gradient from almost non-saline soils to lakes with salt layer instead of water. Some new halophytic communities which were distinguished during the WSI investigations are discussed in the present paper.